Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Aloha, Blue and Gold

Last month, we had our Blue and Gold ceremony. The theme this year was Hawaiian, which you might think is a cute, easy idea. But with boys, little hula dancers in grass skirts is not their idea of a cool theme. Still, they were pretty into the leis we bought them to wear.

After years of neither den ever winning any kid of table decoration or cake decoration award, I took matters into my own hands. I wish I had gotten a better picture of how cute the table for Ryan's den ended up turning out.  Each boy had decorated their own brown paper surfboard, and we laminated them for their placemats. I bought some new sand pails at the dollar store and filled them with sand and put shovels and little drink umbrellas in them for centerpieces, and I brought in all the shells I had around the house and filled them in some of my old cylinder candle vases from our wedding. I also picked up some of these cardboard flowers and scattered them around the light green tablecloth. And guess what? We won second place (out of 14 dens) for table decorations! Color me happy. A new ribbon for our den flag.

Alex's den went with a true "Hawaiian" read on the theme, and one of our moms made this cake. And just in case you couldn't figure out what those cake blobs in the middle of the blue jello were, she printed out a map of the Hawaiian Islands. And we ended up winning second place for the cake! What a pleasant change of events, from never winning, to winning for both dens.

The boys had a great time, and our now on their way to being Bears...

And Webelo IIs. Yikes! Stop growing, Alex.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


We spent Easter this year at home in Austin. For the first time ever, when the boys came in at 7am to wake us to see what the Bunny brought, we told them to go ahead without us. I guess the boys were pleased, because we didn't see them again until we realized we hadn't set our alarms for the 9am church service, and had to rush. After church, we came home for our own egg hunt.

And the requisite family photos, before they started to dig into their candy.

For lunch (and game one of the Spurs-Mavericks series), we headed to my mother-in-law's house.

In which the seven kids present hunted for eggs.

Chris always color coordinates her hunts, which helps equalize things with big age gaps.

It was a lovely, quiet Easter. We just missed having Al with us.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I may have just reached my breaking point

Ordinarily, I absolutely love planning our next adventure. Digging through guide books, looking online at fodors' forums and trip advisor and other fun online sites for the best recommendations... I just eat it up. I absolutely LOVE making schedule after itinerary after alternative ideas after another. Heck, I've planned trips we've never even taken (like our first plans for the summer, which were going to be New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts, with maybe a little Rhode Island and New Jersey thrown in so the boys could cross them off their list - now, that was a good itinerary). What can I say... Travel planning puts me in my happy place. 

But this summer's travel plans are vexing me like no trip has ever vexed me before. For the first time ever, I'm actually considering using a ... (gasp!) ... travel agent.

Why is this so difficult? Well, my mother-in-law is flying out with the boys to Northern California to spend a week with her brother up in Northern, Northern California (as in, six hours north of San Francisco). One week later, Carl is flying out, and she is flying home. And then one week later, I am flying out so we can begin Our Family Vacation for the summer and head up through Oregon and possibly Washington, and then somewhere between 7-10 days later, the four of us will fly back to Austin. The problem? Which airport for all of us to fly into and out of, and where and when to rent the car. 

I've looked at and priced the airports in California: Eureka (which is the closest to Uncle Louie); Redding; Sacramento; San Francisco; Oakland; San Jose; and Medford and Portland, Oregon, as well as Seattle, Washington. I've looked at car rentals in all these places, and I've priced one-way rentals with drop fees; car rentals located away from the airports; car rentals located in the airports. I've priced buses and trains and tried to figure things out. I've even made an excel spreadsheet to try and make sense of it all.

O. M. F. G. 

This is so complicated, its almost (almost) taking the enjoyment out of my planning. Rationally, I know that I just need to bite the bullet and commit to one of these options, and then move on to the fun parts. But I just loathe to overpay for traveling, and I pride myself on always making the most fiscally conservative options for a trip (missing from my spreadsheet - the mileage between cities - I love the idea of a one-way car rental and flying out of a city in Oregon or Washington so we don't waste time, mileage, and vacation days backtracking south - but do I love that $500 worth? $1000 worth?). I'm also trying to squeeze in a day or so with my brother in San Francisco, preferably with the kids, but if we fly out of Portland, that doesn't happen. And is it really worth a six hour drive by myself to fly into San Francisco and spend a night with him? It saves me $200, but that six hours seems awfully long. And I did *just* see him. Oh - also missing from the spreadsheet - the fact that Eureka is an itty bitty little airport and we'd be flying into it on those planes that seat, like, ten people. The kinds that seem to crash all the time, especially in fog. Which, you know, northern California is sorta famous for. 

Which brings me back to... travel agent? Or not? I've never used one before. The one time I did consult one, I was so annoyed with their options and prices that I've never been back. But could it be time? ohhhh.... decisions, decisions.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Inks Lake

A few weekends ago, I had a bunch of girlfriends come in to Austin for a reunion (last get-together: five years ago in Chicago). I'd been planning it for months, so needless to say, when I realized the campout with Alex's webelo den at Inks Lake overlapped, oh well, I knew what I was doing.

So thanks to Carolyn for taking all these great pictures for me.

Friday, April 18, 2014

lauren + will

A few weeks back, we attended my cousin Lauren's wedding.

Although she and her fellow Texan native husband, Will, live in San Diego, they were kind enough to travel back to Texas for their ceremony. 

It was a beautiful ceremony deep in the Texas Hill Country.

We had a lovely time at Lauren's wedding. A few highlights:

I'm still operating without the proper camera, so these are all iPhone pictures. (SIGH)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Field Trips

For some reason, the boys ended up with basically back-to-back field trips this year (thanks, Spicewood).

First up, the fourth graders went to San Antonio to visit Mission San Jose, and then to San Marcos to visit Aquarena Springs.

Mission San Jose is my favorite of the missions in San Antonio. Its so lovely and romantic, although with a bunch of 4th grade kids running around, the experience was a wee bit different.

And then we headed to Aquarena Springs.

To be honest, I didn't even realize this place still existed. Its not the same as it was when I was growing up. 

No mermaids and no swimming pigs. Nothing can swim in the springs anymore, because apparently there are several endangered species swimming and growing around in this clear, blue water. 

And as you can see above, the glass bottom boats are still there. The kids loved the boats, and this was definitely the highlight of the field trip day as far as they were all concerned.

Ryan and the second graders didn't have nearly as exotic of a field trip, but they might have had more fun. 

They spent the day at the Twin Lakes YMCA, playing games and doing activities designed to teach them about the environment and preserving natural resources.

Ryan and Jackson just loved building a dam that would actually stop water from flowing through it. Especially since there was a competition to see whose damn was the best (three guesses who won... these boys LOVE a competition).

Messy hands!

I think a lot of the day's lessons was lost a bit on them, but they all had a great time.

And we even got to go during bluebonnet season. :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...